Thanks to everyone who has already RSVP'd. A clear consensus formed and so I think we should set the time and let everyone figure out travel plans as best they can.
A couple of state center coordinators are not able to make it (NV, FL, maybe TN? Lacey your response was blank.), and a couple are still working out who, if anyone, might be coming to the festival (CT), but of those who have replied in the affirmative, everyone chose either "anytime" or the late afternoon slot, 3 to 6 p.m.. (or until the beginning of the reception is more accurate, I think). (One person will have to join the meeting in progress around 4 p.m.)
We now need to plan the meeting content ...
I am pasting in here the notes from our Friday a.m. meeting at LOC in May. After you review, will you send to me privately your ideas for the agenda for 8/29 ([log in to unmask]). Next Friday, 6/20/14, I will send out a compiled list of agenda ideas and we can either do round robin emails or I can schedule a conference call from Simmons GSLIS, I think, for us to hammer out what we want to do.
NOTE: The Center for the Book staff will be up to their ears with NBF preparations ... so this is going to have to be a state-center driven meeting and we'll have to take careful notes for CFB/LOC as well as for the state centers which could not attend.
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2 May 2014
To: State Centers for the Book
Fr: Sharon Shaloo
Re: Notes from Digital Maps Meeting, Library of Congress
--- ignore this prefatory note
I believe I have captured most of the notes from our one-hour discussion about literary maps from Friday and reproduce them below. On or about June 15th, I’ll create documents for each of the central questions and we and we can start to add our comments and align ourselves with the tasks/issues we feel most connected with. At that point, we may wish to move away from Google Drive to a project management tool. My husband swears by Asana. Have any of you used it or another (free!) tool you recommend?
As you review, please add, comment, suggest, refine, etc., to make this as complete and accurate a document as can be. Please send me your comments and I’ll add them in BLUE prefaced by your initials and put the new document up as comments are added. Thanks!
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The meeting was well attended by Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (John Cole, Anne Boni, Guy Lamolinara, Jillian Adams), state center representatives with online mapping experience (PA, NC, SC, DC, MT, etc.), and many others who are keen to participate in a national initiative based on their participation in or review of the December virtual meeting we held on the topic in December. We were joined by Dr. Brenda Barr, Director of National Alliances for National Geographic.
After some overview discussion of what we think, at first pass, this map might consist in, Dr. Barr presented resources and tools from National Geographic that we might incorporate into a grant-funded initiative. You can browse these resources at the following sites:
A source of local partnership (and also a model for the way an interactive map interface might portal the user into state-specific information/mapping projects is here:
Throughout our conversation, Dr. Barr made useful suggestions and offered substantial help. We were grateful that she accepted John Cole’s invitation to participate in the meeting.
During the discussion we recognized that there were key issues that we would need to resolve in advance of a grant-writing endeavor. And, too, that there were key issues we could write a grant to help us accomplish. The consensus of the group was that our timeline needs to be pushed out, that we need to work toward submitting a large grant application in 2015 for a project to be undertaken beginning in 2016. I have added the timeline issue, however, to the questions to be commented upon by June 30th as I wonder if we might find a smaller source of funding which could help us bring in consultants/scholars to a meeting in DC in August (on the day before National Book Festival) which could help us move our thinking into next-generation mapping strategies before we go too far down the grant writing road.
Key Questions to Resolve in Advance of Grant Writing
I. Audience for the Literary Map
All of us agreed that we need to have a clear understanding of who will use the map and to what end. Some of us were concerned that local and regional stories would be lost in the focus on a national story while others of us felt we could handle levels of specificity through search functions, etc.
SS Note: On reflection, I believe I saw a fundamental difference in the way we are approaching the project that I think we should trick out. At the risk of oversimplifying, when we were thinking about audience, some of us seemed to be asking, “Who will come to this map and what will they learn?” Others seemed to be asking, “Who will come to this map and what information will they be seeking?” That’s a very interesting difference in operating assumptions … and I think we should address this head on, because it’s my sense that the first question leads us to NEH while the second might be better suited to an IMLS application.
II. Content of the Project
We had a lot of questions here and one general assumption.
Operating Assumption: We are proposing to create a curated experience and not provide the structure for a participatory mapping activity such as “DC by the Book” because we feel that community participation activities need to be offered at a local level to be managed and represented effectively.
Questions we raised:
What is the story or stories we will tell using a mapping interface in a meaningful way?
How will we develop layers or levels of information that let us display clear stories of national scope and link to more detailed/comprehensive regional/state information?
If we are mapping individuals, which authors will/won’t be interpreted in the first round of mapping? Perhaps an even more fundamental question, to what extent will this map be author-focused?
If we are including institutions (e.g., literary house museums), which will be mapped in our first round? To what extent will the map be site-based?
If we are linking to archives for any authors, which archives? How many?
What will be the first-round of search
terms we will program for?
Would there be a way to map literary movements, or literary
events, that would move the map away from the purely literary and toward a
We must know who will use the map and what will be the outcomes from that use.
How can we build in affirmatively the diversity we want to represent? Would a focus on literary/cultural trails help us, e.g., a trail of abolitionist writing or a trail of great oratory moments, etc?
Is this an archive or an exhibition or both?
III. Logistics and Tools
Software. Dr. Barr reported that ArcGIS was a mapping standard, especially if we are focusing on change over space and time. Here is a URL for that tool: http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis. She also suggested that we look at the mapmaker kits, the geotourism maps (e.g., the Gulf Coast states), at National Geographic. (I was also taken, given our note about diversity, with the Underground Railroad mapping, and we might think about a slave-narrative trail on that model, e.g.) There may, too, be a possibility of template licensing from National Geographic that we could explore.
Based on his experience with the Pennsylvania Literary and Cultural Map over the past 15 years, Steven Herb stressed the need to address problems of accessibility, not only the need to build a responsive site that will be viewable on many platforms but also the need to adhere strictly to compliance with guidelines on accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act. We need to account for these requirements from the beginning .
We want to avoid falling into any static pages traps from the outset. We will look to make this database-driven from the beginning. The content issues we are looking to solve will be resolved by tagging database entries for results from search terms.
Many state centers are interested in participating but each state will have different capacity. We will need to self-assess our capacity to (1) take a lead on the project,(2) serve on a subcommittee of the project, or (3) focus solely on organizing a state-landing page for the project. We will address the work plan over the summer.No matter at what level state centers participate, we are committed to a project that benefits the network as a whole. I note, too, that the NEH program officer with whom I spoke in December about the project said that letters from as many state centers for the book as possible committing to involvement at some level of the project would impress the reviewers with our capacity to develop a successful project.
It’s possible that we could form a productive alliance with National Geographic around the common interest in “a sense of place.” We will explore that possibility with Dr. Barr as our plan develops.
We seemed to be in general agreement that we will need a university partner to help us develop the project. Many of us have key contacts in major state universities, and we are going to chart those contacts against a ranking of top GIS programs to narrow our focus to a few schools we will approach.
SS Note: On reflection, considering issues of ongoing commitment by a university partner to supporting and updating the project, I wonder if could develop our pitch as if it were the equivalent of committing to the production of a scholarly edition of an author’s works? If we develop a work plan that will provide internships to university students linked to relevant programs, that may be enough incentive over and above the administrative percentage from the grant to make this an attractive venture.
Some asked that we explore how this project would connect with initiatives such as Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). While we were not of a mind to make the map a DPLA project, a partnership with them might help us solve the thorny issue of how to link to archives, which archives to link to, etc.
We will identify scholars who are willing to contribute review pieces for the project. We will discuss at what level and/or with what focus to ask for this contribution: state , regional, literary/historical movement, etc. We might also discuss whether we could simply link to founding essays in a given field/on a particular period, movement, etc., and let scholarly focus be on the sculpting of the current stories we are trying to tell.
Though I didn’t bring it back up again in the meeting, if you will recall from the notes I sent out earlier, the NEH program officer strongly suggested we find a firm to help us with narrative architecture . He offered to suggest some. One that he mentioned off the top of his head was Night Kitchen Interactive in Phila (http://www.whatscookin.com/#C|876|929). Over the summer, once we have more ducks in a row, I can write to him for a couple more suggestions for our review.
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Sharon Shaloo, Executive Director
Massachusetts Center for the Book
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